Intermountain Healthcare, Utah’s largest hospital and health system, and the University of Utah Health have received a multimillion dollar grant to develop a new cancer screening tool using integrated electronic health records technology.

Intermountain Healthcare, Utah’s largest hospital and health system, and the University of Utah Health have received a multimillion dollar grant to develop a new cancer screening tool using integrated electronic health records technology.

Specifically, researchers from the University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare and Huntsman Cancer Institute received a grant for $3.8 million from the National Cancer Institute to develop an advanced cancer screening tool focused on breast and colorectal cancer.

There is a critical need for EHR-agnostic clinical decision support platforms that enable sharing across healthcare organizations.

The new tool will couple electronic health record technologies with advanced clinical decision support tools to screen for several types of cancer and identify and manage high-risk patients within primary care settings and the broader care delivery system,  Intermountain says.

“It is crucial that primary care physicians who are the frontline of care identify patients who are at high risk of developing cancer,” says Intermountain Healthcare medical informatics director and chief clinical systems architect Scott Narus. “Early diagnosis and screening of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.”

Researchers will work with primary care physicians, oncologists and genetic counselors to develop clinical decision support algorithms and interventions to support individualized screening of breast and colorectal cancer. The grant to Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health calls for researchers to focus on the automatic detection of patients at high risk for breast and colorectal cancer according to national cancer guidelines and “individual evidence for providers and patients to better understand risk-appropriate screening strategies,” Intermountain says.

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A key part of developing the new screening tools for cancer is showing that applications and workflow are transferable to another organization and other electronic health records systems, Intermountain says.

“There is a critical need for EHR-agnostic clinical decision support platforms that enable sharing across healthcare organizations,” Intermountain says.

“The goal of the CDS project is to enable a standards-based and scalable CDS SPELL OUT CDS platform for individualized cancer screening to be used across healthcare organizations,” says University of Utah Health assistant professors of biomedical informatics Dr. Guilherme Del Fiol.

Scientific evidence supports individualizing cancer screening based on risk to better predict probabilities of cancer development, Intermountain says.

Today significant barriers to implementation exist for informatics researchers because some electronic health record systems have limited clinical decision support capabilities and there is minimal sharing of clinical decision support rules among healthcare organizations. “We have the potential to produce a platform that has significant impact on individualizing cancer screening according to the best available evidence,” Narus says. “Our aim is to improve patient care and outcomes through evidence-based medicine.”

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